Young Carla Walter stared up at her television in California and saw the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. A ballerina with her pointe shoes and a corps de ballet around her. This is when Walter knew her passion in life was dance.
Walter is an independent scholar and was affiliated with Missouri Southern State University as an associate professor. In addition, Walter was selected to be an Invited Visiting Professor in Hypermedia Communications at the University of Savoy in Annecy, France. Following her excursion to France, Walter expanded her research as faculty at California Lutheran University.
These experiences, along with her education and doctorate in dance history and theory brought Walter to Milledgeville. Walter will teach The Art and Intersections of Indigenous Sacred Dance and Religious Histories in 2022 as the Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar at Georgia College.
In addition to her appointment, Walter has opened Dance in the Spirit, LLC, a dance studio for adults and children in which she will teach and choreograph pieces of classical ballet and liturgical spiritual praise dance.
“I’ve always wanted a ballet company that has a school,” Walter said. “So I figured now is the best time since I've been putting it off for too long.”
Walter’s experience with dance has been ongoing for more than 30 years. Along the way she found a different component to dance that she wants others to experience through her ballet school.
“…Part of the beauty of the dance that you see has a spiritual component,” Walter said. “… It actually can be very meditative, healing and expansive, and I think that unbeknownst to me that's what was happening to me.”
The spiritual liturgical dance Walter will teach at her dance school involves dance that is in honor of an individual's relationship to their nondenominational God. At Dance in the Spirit, all dance is spiritually tied.
“When you come to take a classical ballet class you’re going to learn classical ballet technique,” Walter said. “But when you are learning the choreography the idea is that when you’re here and you’re doing this choreography you're not disconnected from your spirituality.”
Although ballet is a very competitive art form, Walter said that the spiritual aspect of the dance is what needs to be accessed even more than the competitive piece. Once the steps are learned, an important aspect of the dance is to embody the spiritual relationship and show that while the dancer performs, according to Walters.
Classes officially started July 5, ranging from $15 per hour if someone decides to sign up for multiple classes per week. As dancers continue through the program, the hourly rate declines because Walters wants people to commit to the program. If someone were to choose to take a single class, the rate would be $25. There are also discounts for students and parents or guardians with multiple children.
All in-person classes are limited to 10 dancers to provide individual attention and guidance to each dancer.
Beginning, intermediate, advanced and pointe courses in classical ballet are offered in addition to beginning and intermediate/advanced praise/liturgical/spiritual dance. Along with ballet, two other courses are available including simply stretch and sacred dance meditation.
The Academy Program encompasses classes for dancers through the age of 17 years old. The adult program encompasses those older than age 18.
“What I'm envisioning is what you have to do with your dancers is give them the opportunity for outlets so they can be seen,” Walters said. “…Having a full-on performance either here in Milledgeville, Macon or Athens, places that are drivable, but then having individuals come from those other locations to help guide and teach dancers who are interested in that.”
The performances are for those who wish to perform or pursue a career in ballet professionally.
Dance in the Spirit is welcome to everyone, regardless of prior dance experience.
“We welcome everyone … all different walks of life, all different ethnicities, genders, we don’t care,” Walters said. “We love everyone here and think that is a really big piece that people need to understand because a lot of times people look at it and say it’s not for me but it is.”
For those interested in signing up for classes at Dance in the Spirit, visit https://danceinthespirit.com/ or call 478-295 2944.
“I’m just really, really excited to show, to help, people see the power of dance and what it can do to a life and the beauty of it,” Walters said. “I guess what I’m most excited about is the next phase is going to be because I am imagining that this is the beginning.”